Deans: Wallabies would welcome Cooper back

MELISSA WOODS
Last updated 19:56 26/09/2012
Robbie Deans
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ
ROBBIE DEANS: The Wallabies' coach has given his support to Quade Cooper despite the injured star criticising the environment within the team.
Quade Cooper
Getty Images
QUADE COOPER: Described the Wallabies set-up as "toxic" and his future in rugby could be in doubt as his ARU contract expires after this year.

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Frustrated five-eighth Quade Cooper would be welcome back in the Australian camp despite his criticism that it's a toxic environment, Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says.

While the Wallabies have been in Johannesburg preparing for their Rugby Championship Test against South Africa at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, Cooper lashed the Australian set-up and Deans' conservative game plans.

The 24-year-old, who is out after re-injuring his knee, criticised Australia's boring playing style, warning the Wallabies would continue to lose fans and Tests against New Zealand with conservative tactics.

He said he was only allowed to play his maverick attacking game with Queensland in Super Rugby and might join his close mate All Black Sonny Bill Williams in the NRL next season.

Deans didn't want to comment on Cooper's Twitter tirade but said he still supported the disillusioned star.

"Absolutely," Deans said when asked whether Cooper would be welcomed back into the Wallabies fold.

He said Cooper's comments hadn't taken away from the team's preparation for the test.

"There hasn't been any distractions for the group to be fair and I'd rather not comment," Deans said.

The Wallabies mentor said he was concerned about Cooper's welfare and had been in touch, sending him a text to wish him well for his knee operation.

"We care about our players," he said.

"You're only young once and you only get this opportunity in the game once and we want the best for all of them."

Deans said he'd be happy to sit down with Cooper to talk through his issues.

"Robust conversation is a critical part of the game," Deans said.

Australian prop Benn Robinson, who will play his 50th Test on Saturday, said the Wallabies camp was a happy one.

"The time that we've spent here, it's really brought the team together," Robinson said.

"Spending the extra few days here has created a very strong environment and it's reflected in our training and just the general feel around the squad."

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